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01/01/70 - 27/08/10 - Stilton Cheese, the PDO and Worzel Gummidge by Neil Sowerby

IT was encouraging to see James Paice, the Minister for Agriculture and Food, visiting Stilton’s heartland. The Tory MP for South East Cambridgeshire and former Shadow agriculture spokesman has a background in farm management, so his Coalition appointment was an obvious horses for courses choice. Unlike some.

 

Ostensibly he was in the Melton area to learn about food labelling. More specifically to gauge how Stilton cheese and Melton Mowbray pork pies have protected and promoted their high quality image.

 

Food tourism is all the rage and the spin-offs from such high profile products benefit a community as well as the six dairies crafting it. In the 21st century the quality of local produce is inexorably tied up with the whole weekend break package.

 

We’re still a long way off from ‘Welcome To Stilton Country’ with subtitles in Japanese on boundary boards across the three counties allowed to produce the cheese, but there is no doubt world renown helps swell visitor numbers.

We must remember that the purity of the Stilton image has not come about without real perseverance on behalf of the Stilton Cheesemakers Association in pursuing a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) for it and gaining it in the mid-Nineties.

 

Stilton was used to fighting its corner. There had been a very public spat in the Seventies over an American cheese producer’s use of the word Stilton. A lengthy legal battle was finally won to force the name off the packaging of a blue-veined cheese made in Wisconsin.

 

A PDO is what he French call an “Appellation d’origine controlee” or AOC. Giving it similar protected status, among cheeses, as Gorgonzola, Parmiggiano-Reggiano and Camembert de Normandie, as well as Champagne, Parma Ham and Balsamic Vinegar.

 

You only have to compare the muddied path of Cheddar, a name that encompasses everything from the classic aged cheeses from the West Country with their mellow nuttiness, to some waxy, positively nasty impostors from around the globe.

 

The European Union now recognises traditional West Country Farmhouse Cheddar cheese from Somerset, Dorset, Cornwall and Devon as a PDO, but it has come a too little too late to police internationally.

 

The consumption of Cheddar in the US alone is many times the amount  Cheddar could feasibly produce. Hence the "Cheddar" name is not protected, but the more specific name "West Country Farmhouse Cheddar" is.

 

In contrast Stilton is the most strictly prescribed cheese in the UK. Before the PDO was achieved it was protected by a certification trademark from the 1960s which stipulates how it can be made and that it can only be made in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. The same certification trade mark applies in 18 other countries throughout the world so assuring consumers in Stilton’s key overseas markets about the origin of the cheese they are buying.

 

It’s all about what the French call “terroir”. These three counties contain the correct type of pasture to produce the appropriate milk. Critics may call it ring fencing. I say it reassures me whenever, from whatever source, I purchase a piece of Stilton.

 

ON a lighter note, it was lovely to see the evergreen Una Stubbs appearing as Mrs Hudson in the BBC’s sensational Sherlock series. It seems a long time since the Leicestershire-born actress was in Sixties sitcom Till Death Us Do Part.

 

About the time (two decades later) she was most famous for playing Aunt Sally in Worzel Gummidge, she turned up at the Nantwich Cheese Show sampling a winner from Long Clawson Dairy. There she is, most un-Sallylike, in a press picture. Elementary, dear Worzel.

 


 

01/01/70 - Stilton Ice Cream

As the wind chill factor bites ever harder icd cream seems hardly the priority, but when it's a savoury treat crafted from the finest Stilton.... our blue-veined blogger Neil Sowerby investigates

 

ONE result of an autumn windfall has been my purchase of an ice cream maker. An all-spinning, all-chilling industrial gelato monster. The last one I had restricted my production since after each batch I had to clean and stick the detachable contents cylinder back into the freezer to re-freeze. Not this one. One power surge and it chills in minutes.

-ICE CREAM PIC ONE-

Soon after this decidedly solid piece of machinery arrived I chanced upon a BBC Breakfast filler about an ice cream convention in Harrogate where a swarthy guy called Paulo was proudly displaying his Port and Stilton ice to a regional girl reporter who couldn’t believe her luck – an Italian hunk and more than one cornetto! 

She couldn’t get her head around such a flavour for an ice cream, but the combination worked for me. I speak after returning from a trip to Japan where ice cream flavours include pit viper and raw horse meat (I jest not). I’ve no intention of giving those a whirl, though a green tea ice would be nice.

I don’t know what the Japanese for serendipity is, but awaiting me on my return was a review copy of a fabulous new book by ice cream specialists Caroline and Robin Weir. Heston Blumenthal, he of bacon and egg ice cream fame, is a big fan. And would you believe it? Ice Creams, Sorbets and Gelati: The Definitive Guide (Grub Street, £25) contains a recipe for Frozen Stilton Cheese Cream.

-ICE CREAM PIC 2-

It’s a treat that dates back to Victorian times. It can be a starter with celery seed biscuits or served after dinner – with Port, naturally. I combined it with a piece of Christmas cake. Bad luck possibly to break into it early (a juicy Melmerby Bakery organic example, if you want to know) but it was a lovely match.

To make the Frozen Stilton Cheese Cream, bring 20 fl oz of whole milk and a clove close to boiling point. Discard the rind from 9fl oz of Stilton and chop the rest into half inch cubes. Add to the milk and stir over a gentle heat until melted. Remove the pan from the heat and beat the mixture vigorously for 30 seconds before adding four tablespoons of White Port. Add a touch of black pepper before chilling in the fridge.

When ready remove the clove and delicately beat 18oz of fromage frais into the cheese mixture. After that still freeze or stir freeze in your ice cream maker. After storing in a freezer it needs 30 minutes to soften enough for serving.

It’s altogether a less intense Stilton ice than the nation’s most famous, produced by Worcester dairy Churchfields Farm (www.churchfields-farm.co.uk).

Their Seriously Stilton, made from milk from their own pedigree Friesians contains 25 per cent Stilton, grated into an ordinary ice cream base of sugar, milk and cream.

Emphasising the savoury nature of such an ice I’d serve it scattered with chives, accompanied by a basil and tomato salad and some foccacia. Not so strange after all!

 

01/01/70 - Stilton Ice Cream

As the wind chill factor bites ever harder icd cream seems hardly the priority, but when it's a savoury treat crafted from the finest Stilton.... our blue-veined blogger Neil Sowerby investigates

 

ONE result of an autumn windfall has been my purchase of an ice cream maker. An all-spinning, all-chilling industrial gelato monster. The last one I had restricted my production since after each batch I had to clean and stick the detachable contents cylinder back into the freezer to re-freeze. Not this one. One power surge and it chills in minutes.

-ICE CREAM PIC ONE-

Soon after this decidedly solid piece of machinery arrived I chanced upon a BBC Breakfast filler about an ice cream convention in Harrogate where a swarthy guy called Paulo was proudly displaying his Port and Stilton ice to a regional girl reporter who couldn’t believe her luck – an Italian hunk and more than one cornetto! 

She couldn’t get her head around such a flavour for an ice cream, but the combination worked for me. I speak after returning from a trip to Japan where ice cream flavours include pit viper and raw horse meat (I jest not). I’ve no intention of giving those a whirl, though a green tea ice would be nice.

I don’t know what the Japanese for serendipity is, but awaiting me on my return was a review copy of a fabulous new book by ice cream specialists Caroline and Robin Weir. Heston Blumenthal, he of bacon and egg ice cream fame, is a big fan. And would you believe it? Ice Creams, Sorbets and Gelati: The Definitive Guide (Grub Street, £25) contains a recipe for Frozen Stilton Cheese Cream.

-ICE CREAM PIC 2-

It’s a treat that dates back to Victorian times. It can be a starter with celery seed biscuits or served after dinner – with Port, naturally. I combined it with a piece of Christmas cake. Bad luck possibly to break into it early (a juicy Melmerby Bakery organic example, if you want to know) but it was a lovely match.

To make the Frozen Stilton Cheese Cream, bring 20 fl oz of whole milk and a clove close to boiling point. Discard the rind from 9fl oz of Stilton and chop the rest into half inch cubes. Add to the milk and stir over a gentle heat until melted. Remove the pan from the heat and beat the mixture vigorously for 30 seconds before adding four tablespoons of White Port. Add a touch of black pepper before chilling in the fridge.

When ready remove the clove and delicately beat 18oz of fromage frais into the cheese mixture. After that still freeze or stir freeze in your ice cream maker. After storing in a freezer it needs 30 minutes to soften enough for serving.

It’s altogether a less intense Stilton ice than the nation’s most famous, produced by Worcester dairy Churchfields Farm (www.churchfields-farm.co.uk).

Their Seriously Stilton, made from milk from their own pedigree Friesians contains 25 per cent Stilton, grated into an ordinary ice cream base of sugar, milk and cream.

Emphasising the savoury nature of such an ice I’d serve it scattered with chives, accompanied by a basil and tomato salad and some foccacia. Not so strange after all!

 

01/01/70 - A Super Smooth SupperSimple Sophistication

Trying to impress with your cookery skills this Valentine’s Day but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry you can treat your loved one to a home-cooked dish that oozes sophistication and flavour, without leaving you in a spin.

Paired with a glass of white wine, this delicious Stilton and Butternut Squash Risotto will be sure to warm things up and impress at the same time – Result!

Stilton Risotto with Butternut Squash, Sage & Walnuts

Serves 2

A sophisticated but easy dish, perfect for a romantic evening.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 25g walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 7g butter
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp freshly chopped sage
  • 200g arborio risotto rice
  • 1/2 litre vegetable stock, boiling
  • 150g butternut squash, deseeded, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 50g Blue Stilton cheese
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage for garnish

Instructions

1 Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan, add half of the chopped walnuts and allow to brown. Spoon the nuts onto a plate and set aside.

2 Add the butter, onions and chopped sage to the pan and soften for 6-8 minutes.

3. Stir in the rice to absorb the cooking juices. Add the chopped squash and slowly add the stock by adding ladlefuls of stock bit by bit, stirring and allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next.  Then simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

4 Switch off the heat, crumble in the Stilton, add the remaining chopped walnuts, cover and allow to finish cooking in its own heat for 5 minutes.

Serve each portion garnished with a sprig of fresh sage.

 

01/01/70 -

How much do you love Stilton?

Share your love of Stilton and win a year’s supply of Britain’s Favourite Blue

 

To celebrate the first ever National Stilton Week, taking place from 15-21st April, the Stilton Cheese Makers’ Association is offering you the chance to win a basket of Stilton cheeses to a value of £50.

 

In keeping with the focus on all things British this year with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics fast approaching, National Stilton Week will be taking place across the UK this week with the aim of celebrating this delicious and surprisingly versatile ingredient.

 

With its slightly open texture and creamy background, Stilton melts and crumbles easily.  There are lots of ways to use Stilton to give extra oomph to everyday snacks such as beans on toast, burgers and pizza or simply adding to salads, soups, sauces or gravy. 

 

It’s time to get cheesy! To enter the competition, all you need to do is tell the Stilton Cheese Twitter account (@ILoveStilton), why you love Stilton in 140 characters using the hashtag #ILoveStilton.

 

Entries will be judged by our very own Stilton expert, Nigel White, Secretary of The Stilton Cheese Makers’ Association, who will be judging your answers on their creativity and clear dedication to the King of Cheeses.

 

Terms and Conditions

 

- All answers must be under 140 characters and submitted via Twitter using the hashtag #ILoveStilton

- Entries will be judged by Nigel White, Secretary of The Stilton Cheese Makers’ Association

- All answers must be submitted by 5pm on Friday 20th April, any entries submitted after this time will not be counted

- After this time, the winner will be contacted via twitter and will receive a voucher for a basket of different Stilton Cheeses (Blue Stilton, White Stilton and White Stilton blended with various fruits) to a value of £50 which the winner can arrange to redeem directly from one of our dairies and have it delivered at a time to suit.

 

 

Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ILoveStilton

Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/stiltoncheese

 

Visit www.stiltoncheese.co.uk for Stilton facts, recipes, news and much more.